Creating a LABB Drumstick - processes

Posted by Frank Kincel on

For those that do not know and have not considered the processes that go into making a drumstick, I wanted to share a bullet list of the process in the one man, one machine (lathe) shop. These processes are what makes it difficult to make very small batches of a drumstick and limit the ability for "one off" custom product.

  • Find a wood distributor
  • select boards for grain structure and minimum imperfections
  • load, transport lumber and unload lumber at shop
  • cut boards down to rough stock length- called "books" (while inspecting yet again)
  • stack boards to acclimate MC (moisture content)
  • ripped cupped and wide books for jointer width processing and stack
  • trim books to exact stock length
  • joint one face (2 passes min.) to ensure flatness before planing, stack again
  • plane second surface of book to yield nice flat stock @ 13/16 thickness (2 passes min.) and stack
  • rip stock to 13/16 yielding a 13/16" square billet (blank)
  • stack to let acclimate to MC
  • once MC is established, sort billets for grain structure and imperfections
  • choose the desired tooling for the desired stick
  • mount tooling on lathe and "dial in" the shaft and neck diameter (not cnc, MANUAL) this includes adjustment nuts, bolts and some .0025" shims
  • run several undesirable billets to fine tune the lathe (these will also be used to dial in other processes)
  • load lathe hopper with billets and begin turning (the lathe cuts 85-90% of the stick)
  • set up/dial in trim saw to trim "chucks" from the tip and butt of the stick to length
  • trim all pieces turned by lathe
  • set up/dial in tip station
  • tip all sticks that are trimmed
  • setup/dial in butt roundover
  • round over all butts
  • setup/dial in sander for tip and shaft of stick to be sanded
  • sand all sticks that were lathed, trimmed and shaped
  • Let sticks sit for 1-2 days to acclimate MC (imperative to weed out bananas)
  • roll all sanded drumsticks to weed out bananas before lacquer *
  • weigh lacquer and water mix to ratio of sticks being tumbled (works best 36pc min.)
  • add sticks and lacquer to tumbler and run for 30 minutes or until damp dry(not slimy)
  • remove each stick from tumbler and hand rub with damp rag
  • place on rack to dry for 12 hours min.
  • place sticks in tumbler with 4 gallons of shavings to polish (10 minutes min.)
  • roll for straightness again (lacquer will create a few bananas) *
  • sort for weight
  • match by pitch (this process may go away since most drummers don't seem to think it matters)
  • place pair in a rack
  • hand stamp each stick with size and brand name
  • hand wrap each pair of sticks with a sleeve
  • inventory and place in bin


These are the processes in a nutshell. As you can see, there are quite a number of processes that go into making a LA BackBeat Drumstick.

For those drummers that are asking about spec sizes, this is why the sticks are at the small batch, custom pricing.

*The loss to bananas does not stay constant from larger batch to small batch



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